FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi kicks the ball to score against Alaves during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Two goals from Lionel Messi either side of a Philippe Coutinho strike allowed Barcelona to start their defense of the Spanish title with a 3-0 win over Alaves at the Camp Nou Saturday night. Wearing the captain's armband following the departure of Andres Iniesta to Japan, Messi stepped up to send a cheeky second-half free kick under the jumping wall and into the net for the opener, and Barca's 6,000th La Liga goal.While Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real for Juventus, Messi remains as the figurehead at Barcelona and he won his 33rd trophy with the club in the Spanish Super Cup victory over Sevilla the previous weekend.
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